A device with a motion sensor that stands next to the bed and spits out a performance report every morning – that could give you the wrong idea. But Google’s latest development is adult-free, is also suitable for single people and measures a rather harmless activity: sleep. But why should you put a gadget with a microphone in the bedroom that constantly listens and registers even the smallest movements under the covers?
Google believes it can provide an answer with the Nest Hub. According to studies, every third adult sleeps too little. This increases the risk of developing dementia and heart disease and is responsible for thousands of fatal car accidents every year. That’s why Google created a device to help people sleep better.
At first glance, the new Nest Hub resembles the first generation: a smart display like other manufacturers build. You can watch YouTube and Netflix videos, listen to music and ask the built-in Google Assistant for advice. Although half the world makes video calls in the home office, Google does not use a camera. That’s smart, because the Nest Hub only unfolds its potential on the bedside table. Most people would rather remain unobserved there.
No wheeze, no snore goes unnoticed
For the sleep sensor, Google relies on an old acquaintance: the Soli chip, which was already used in Pixel cell phones. The radar system recognizes whether you are tossing and turning in bed and the rhythm at which your chest is heaving. Together with the microphone that records snoring and coughing, the Nest Hub should be able to record the quality of sleep. It actually works in the test. Anyone who wakes up exhausted usually sees a restless night in the evaluation.
This leads to three questions. First, do I need a device to tell me why I’m tired, or do I just go to bed earlier the next night? Second, do I trust Google that all data is processed locally and only an abstract sleep graph ends up on Google’s servers? Third: Is the self-measurement worth 100 euros and possibly a paid subscription from next year, which Google has not yet finally decided on? Anyone who answers yes three times is well served with the Nest Hub. If you have doubts, you could try banning the smartphone from the bedroom instead of buying more technology – that should have helped.